Sunday, 22 August 2010

Party Animals

Brian Hewlett (Neil Carter)

So, it turned out that Jennifer was worrying about nothing and Clive Horrobin hadn't been invited to the party after all. What a cruel trick by Alice and Chris – or, rather, it would have been cruel had it been played on anyone but Jennifer – now she's got to remember where she put Brian's 25-year-old malt and various family heirlooms for safe keeping. Actually, as one of the Horrobins was said to be drinking champagne with whisky chasers, she was probably wise.

"The Horrobins totally ignored my table plan", said Jennifer. And little wonder, as she'd probably put them in the next-field-but-one and erected an electric fence round the drinks trolley. The union of their son with an Aldridge seems to have given Susan and Neil delusions of adequacy, with Susan dreaming of being invited to 'County Set' functions. Only if they need a waitress, Susan.

Neil had obviously had too much champagne, as he proposed a toast to "two of Ambridge's finest farming families". True enough, but he shouldn't forget that one owns all the land, the other works on it. I just hope he didn't try and kiss Jennifer.

Jennifer's week got off to a mixed start, with Debbie flying in from Hungary. Jen's happiness was dashed when Debbie said that she and Marshall had split up and she (Jen) was distraught, wailing: "She'll be 40 this year!" (Christmas Eve if you are interested). That's it Debbie – better get used to life on the shelf; you're finished, over the hill, yesterday's woman, so just go off and lay down somewhere to await the end, that's a good girl.

Emma's stalker turned out to be Josh. "It's quite sweet really", she said. Oh yeah? She didn't think that when she made the frantic call to Ed to come home because she was scared. Let's hope that Josh grows out of it, but meantime I'd keep an eye on the contents of the washing line if I were her, just in case.

Kenton proved that he wasn't a complete waste of space when he talked Jamie round to playing cricket, although the rapidity and strength of Jamie's conversion was a bit unconvincing. Perhaps he'll stop sighing now.

Mind you, it could be hunger, as he begged a spag bol off Fallon, saying that he'd only had toast all day. I thought that Kathy would force feed him muesli every morning, but it seems not. Fallon's music career has been put on hold (I bet the other members of the band are chuffed about that) but fortunately we were spared the song that she has written about Sid.

Nevertheless, it was good of Fallon to look after Jamie, as if she hasn't enough to do. Brenda rallied round and contributed to the pub's takings by ordering a cheese and pickle sarnie and a mineral water – soon be able to hire extra kitchen staff at this rate. But will they be needed, as Jolene sinks ever deeper into her slough of despond and threatens to sell her shares in the business? Let's be honest; yes Jolene's had a rough time, but as far as the pub's concerned, she's about as much good as a one-legged person at a bum-kicking party. The advert for the new bar person has gone into the Echo (what's the matter with employing Harry every now and then?), but will it be too late as the Bull sinks slowly into oblivion?

Monday, 16 August 2010

(Jail)birds of a Feather

Charlotte Martin (Susan Carter)

Have you noticed that every time Jamie is in a scene, he either precedes every comment or ends every sentence with a sigh? Whether this is to remind us that he's still grieving, or a reaction to Kathy's limpet-like attention, I couldn't say, but to me it just sounds like he's got asthma.

It had to happen – Helen went public over the baby. Very public – and all it took was a word to Susan and Vicky and pow! - the whole of Borsetshire knows. Susan didn't seem to be able to get her head round the fact that you don't actually need a man for conception and I think she suspects Helen of signing a pact with the Devil. If she did so, he'd presumably have to smarten up a bit, clean his hooves and iron his wings.

Peggy was equally unenthusiastic, but at least we now know where Tony gets it from, as she told him how upset she was. "Why couldn't she wait?" Peggy asked. Wait for what? Peggy was also muttering things like "…when the right man comes along…" There could never be a right man for Helen, as nobody is that perfect, or patient. If Helen ever got married, I reckon the first row would break out during the walk down the aisle, when she'd probably tell him off for not being in step.

While Peggy agrees with Tony about Helen, she wasn't so happy when John grassed him up (Boom! Boom!) to her about Tony's impulse purchase of the mower/conditioner. And no, I don't know what one of those is either, but at £7.5 grand, it should be pretty good. Tony's protestations that it wasn't really much money didn't really ring true, when you consider that you very rarely hear him buying a drink for anyone in the pub. The man's tighter than one of Jordan's sweaters.

The story about Chris and Alice's party is simmering nicely, with Jennifer going from "it-will-all-end-in-tears" mode to raving control freak in the blink of an eye. At first she was too busy to organise anything but now if Susan even offers to choose the toothpicks, she's slapped to the ground and trampled on until she knows her place. As Brian put it to Jennifer, with masterly understatement: "You did rather take over her idea." The words "Hitler" and "Czechoslovakia" spring to mind.

But hey, Alice has invited everyone she's ever known, and then some (don't worry, your invitation is probably on its way) and we have the frisson of fear that Clive Horrobin might be let out of jail to attend. Just keep him away from the matches. Actually, there could be a touching meeting of soulmates, what with Clive, the recently-untagged Matt and ex-jailbird Susan swapping stories about life inside over the champagne and canap├ęs. That is unless Jennifer has put them on the Horrobin table, in which case it will be brown ale and pig's trotters.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Wedded Bliss?

Hollie Chapman (Alice Aldridge)

What a brilliant stroke by the writers to have Chris and Alice getting married on their Stateside holiday! I must admit that, when the penny dropped for Jennifer, it was one of the few times that I wished that the Archers were on TV, not radio.

Jennifer's cry of anguish when she realised that she was now related by marriage to the Horrobin clan was truly heartfelt and, to be honest, who could blame her? Susan, on the other hand, was ecstatic and her phone calls and visit to discuss the celebration party were pouring salt into Jennifer's gaping social wounds. Brian, pragmatic as ever, was trying to find a bright side. "At least we won't have to fork out for a big wedding" he said.

Poor (not) Jennifer – she has probably had Felpersham Cathedral booked for the next three years, just in case Alice hooked up with somebody suitable. Now all she has to look forward to is fending off Susan's suggestions that they spend Christmas/birthdays together.
A word of advice – don't hold the party at Home Farm, or the Horrobins will probably be nicking the lead off the roof.

Full marks to Peggy Woolley, who doubled the size of her cheque to the happy couple (the only present they have received, incidentally) and who told Jennifer some home truths when the latter was talking about how socially unacceptable the union was and what would happen when Chris and Alice got divorced. "Your Grandmother came from the East End" Peggy reminded her. A case of Peggy taking her daughter down a peg or two.

Eddie Grundy got it spot on when he told Alisha the Kiwi sheep shearer "Jennifer and Susan are both snobs" – true, but at opposite ends of the spectrum. He added, in another rare flash of insight, "Everyone looks down on the Grundy's – we're the bottom of the heap." If the cap fits, Eddie…

I'm not a cruel person, but I really hope that Alice and Chris make a go of their marriage, as every day they are together will be torture for Jennifer and, frankly, I've never liked the woman.

What else has been happening? Emma appears to have an admirer. If it turns out to be anyone other than Josh I'll be gobsmacked. This is what happens when you let a young man clean out your washing machine filter.

The state of mind of Jolene is a worry, particularly as there is a lack of real ales in the pub. Customers are deserting the place – if Jolene and Fallon aren't careful, the place might be turned into luxury flats by Borsetshire Land, or, as Lillian is part owner of the pub, more likely by AmSide Properties.

Finally, we return to Kathy and Kenton, or, as Kenton spent yet another night on Kirsty's sofa, perhaps we should talk about the KKK. The latest row came after Kenton was mowing the lawn as yet again, he and Kathy failed to communicate in any meaningful way. Kathy finally lost it, screaming at Kenton: "Do you know, I don't care". You and five million listeners, Kathy…

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Kathy, You're Starting To Get On My Nerves

Tom Graham (Tom Archer)

So, the mystery celebrity to open the fete was Colin Dexter, who you'd really think had better things to do. He revealed that the murderer was Doris Perkins, the mother-in-law. Thank God that's over.

A faux pas by Brenda, who answered the phone to Lillian by saying "Matt's office". Oops! Don't forget whose money pays your wages, Bren – all that good work thrown away and Lillian rubbed it in on Friday, by sending Brenda shopping for her.

Still, Brenda did get a phone call from Tom early in the week. Was he going to propose? Or to declare undying love? Not exactly, as he told her "I've had a good response about the pies – I thought you'd like to know." God, yes – I bet she hadn't been able to concentrate on her work all morning and was agog with expectation. As it turned out, Tom decided not to go ahead with the veal and ham pie venture after three seconds' in-depth discussion with mother Pat. Pat then showed Tom Helen's first scan (sadly not her last, I suspect) and he had to do his impression of someone who cared.

Vicky's stint in the shop will do wonders for drumming up trade – for the supermarket. The woman seems incapable of keeping her gob shut for longer than two seconds and why nobody banged her head against the counter is a mystery.

However, for sheer, making-you-shout-at-the-radio-and-clench-your fist-in-annoyance, may I present Kathy Perks. Last week I suggested that she could moan a bit (OK, a lot) but this week she surpassed herself. Speaking about her relationship with Jamie, she said "I just seem to be an irritation." Too bloody right! And not just to Jamie, either.

We had the saga of Jamie posting a picture of his teacher Miss Osborne, in a rather tired and emotional state and wearing a revealing top, on his Facebook page. Not only was Jamie reprimanded, but when Kathy found out that the picture had originally been posted on the Jaxx website, Kenton's stock sank even lower, if that were possible. It didn't help when she found Kenton talking to the two Kiwi girl campers when he should have been reporting for a dressing down.

Despite taking the photo off the site, Kathy decided to let Miss Osborne know what had happened (after lengthy preaching at Jamie and moaning at Kenton). Both boys couldn't see what all the fuss was about – "let sleeping dogs lie" was Kenton's advice – but no, Ambridge's own caped crusader insisted that telling Miss O was the right thing to do, so she did. Instead of throwing a wobbler, Miss Osborne clearly couldn't give a toss and dismissed the whole thing, saying "I'll have to be more careful next time".

Nice one Kathy; in one stroke you have widened the gulf between you and your partner to chasm-like dimensions, further alienated your still-grieving son and made thousands of listeners ache to give you a good kicking. I can hardly wait for next week.