Leeds Christmas Market
Sunday was the big day – Tony and Pat were going to see Rich at last. At the Christmas market, Pat was racked with doubts, saying "they won't come" until Tony pointed out that they had got there about six hours early and why not have a look at the stalls to pass the time?
Anyway, Sharon, Eamonn and Rich did turn up and there followed a rather anodyne, somewhat stilted conversation along the lines of "gosh, fancy meeting you here…" We learned that Rich likes science (biology), most sports and is a fledgling pace bowler, then he was dragged off by Eamonn to get a burger, while Sharon made it plain that this was to be the only meeting, unless Rich asks about his real father. Sharon left her best news to last – telling Pat that Rich is just a nickname and the boy's given name is John.
Back at Bridge Farm the next day, Pat and Tony discuss how Rich's smile is just like John's and, rather grudgingly; "whatever we thought about Sharon, he's a real credit to her". Don't go over the top, Tony! At the end of the week, Helen persuades them to decorate the tree early (it's usually a Christmas Eve tradition) so that Henry can enjoy it. Helen mentions the fact that it is a break with tradition, prompting Tony to wax philosophical, saying "everything has to move on." I really hope so when it comes to the Rich storyline, as I have just about had enough of Pat's moping, agonising and hand wringing.
Perhaps some of it is that Pat will be 60 in January and this gives Lilian the idea to hold a party for her at the Dower House – just a simple affair; they can cope with about 60 people, although the chances of Pat and Tony having 60 friends are remote. Six would be nearer. Still, as it's Lilian hosting the party, it is rumoured that the big Gin distillers are unmothballing factories and taking on more staff.
At Brookfield, David is still having badger trouble and is incensed that, should he repair the slurry pond, this could be regarded as interfering with the badger sett and he could be fined. I bet the badgers are sniggering away to themselves. David says Josh keeps reading on the Internet about farmers going out of dairy. "I can't imagine Brookfield without a dairy herd" Tony tells David, just to cheer him up a bit.
Another who needs cheering up is Susan, who spends some quality time reminiscing about her mother with Clarrie, while the latter kills and plucks turkeys. There's nothing like discussing your own mortality as you slaughter a shedful of birds. Actually, I might be doing Clarrie an injustice, as the turkeys were probably already dead and she's just removing feathers and internal organs.
Over at Lower Loxley, Freddie is getting excited by the imminent arrival of Caspar the pony and has set up his stall, including fresh straw, a jacuzzi, plasma screen TV, carrot-flavoured champagne and an endless supply of frisky young fillies, in case he gets lonely. Freddie then goes into sensible mode, saying how he wishes Nigel was there. I cannot remember whether or not he referred to Nigel as 'Daddy', but I wouldn't be surprised. I have noticed an unsettling trend where Freddie (and Lily) are getting quite large speaking parts and Freddie is getting to sound more and more like his father, which is worrying.
Thursday night saw both Nic's Hen Party and Will's Stag do. The boys went to a Comedy Club, then to an Indian restaurant, where Will gives a speech saying how lucky he is to be marrying such a lovely girl and five million listeners nod in agreement. The boys return home comparatively sober, saying that they must be getting old.
Things are different for the girls – the plan was to be picked up in a stretch limo, then on to Jaxx's for food and then to hit the nightclubs. Personally, I was hoping that Nic would take the limo to the airport and get on the first available plane, having come to her senses. But it was not to be, as the limo broke an axle. Not to worry, as there was plenty of booze on board and the girls – including the formerly stuffy and strait-laced Helen – got completely rat-arsed. So much so that Will, Tom and Roy are treated to the spectacle of the girls being driven home in a police car after having been rescued from the stranded limo. The episode ends with the stomach-churning scene of Nic snogging Will. Never mind, there's still a few days till New Year's Day and, as we learned last year, dramatic things can happen.